How to Execute your Data Governance Roadmap (New Step-by-step Case Study for Data Governance Leads)

This article will share the exact process we recently implemented for one of our Law Firm clients looking to achieve operational data governance.

This case study typifies the key steps, deliverables, and obstacles you’ll need to address when launching your initiative.

The Background

What do we do with the Roadmap now?

After helping a Law Firm work through the steps to create a Data Governance Roadmap, they still had a gap in their ability to deliver it. There was no one internally who was suitable to be, or wanted to be, their Data Governance Lead.

The Business Sponsor had a problem. The Recruitment Team advised him that it would take six months (minimum) to find and onboard someone externally. Still, he wanted to capitalise on the stakeholder buy-in generated through the foundation Road Map creation process and get started on the Firm’s data governance journey.

H2 Why Iron Carrot could help

Since Iron Carrot, and CJ in particular, had worked on developing the Foundation Roadmap, the Business Sponsor asked if she could help the Firm get started on implementing their data governance plans while they recruited a permanent employee.

Executing the Roadmap

The Firm’s two-year Roadmap set out the objectives and framework implementation steps as a simple single-page diagram, supported by a more detailed roadmap document.

Since CJ had also helped them create a simple, strategic, tactical, and operational layered data governance framework, they had already identified and documented the roles and responsibilities.

Step 1 Revalidate the Roadmap

CJ wrote the Firm’s Data Governance Foundation Roadmap with an internal data governance lead in mind. The first activity was to sit down with the Business and Partner Sponsors and agree which activities would keep momentum and stakeholder engagement and which could (or should) wait until the Firm hired a new Data Governance lead.  

We agreed that creating or improving documents and diving into the start of long term strategic projects could wait. The Business Sponsor wanted people and urgent problem-focused actions to be started as soon as possible.

Step 2 Agree on a hand-over plan

The HR Team also guided the Business Sponsor in adding the appropriate steps to the Roadmap for recruiting, onboarding, and transitioning out Iron Carrot support.

They included a requirement for Iron Carrot to develop a checklist of documents and meetings and to build a schedule of activities for induction, shadowing, formal hand-over, and remote support.

We worked with the Business Sponsor and took advice from hiring managers in the other Business Services teams to develop a program that provided maximum support for the incoming Data Governance Lead while allowing CJ to slowly move away from the Firm.

As well as a detailed introduction to the Foundation Road Map activities and outputs, we included time for debriefing on the Roadmap Execution progress to date and the thinking behind the other steps on the Roadmap.

This tapered program covered 12 weeks (3 months) to support the new Data Governance Lead through an entire cycle of meetings and activities.

Step 3 Implement the communications plan

We started by setting up the communications activities on the Roadmap to help increase transparency and enable better communication between the stakeholders. This activity set the expectation that data governance happens best by everyone working out loud.

These included:

  • the distribution lists for the data governance framework groups, named using the Firm’s preferred naming system
  • an intranet page that was accessible by the whole Firm and shared the vision and the one-page Roadmap
  • a collaboration space private to the framework groups that included the terms of reference for each of the groups and the more detailed Roadmap
  • the document management system folder for holding everything else

The Business Sponsor nominated his PA to help set up and maintain all collaboration and communication mechanisms for data governance content and activities until the Data Governance Lead was on board.

Step 4 Set up the Data Governance Framework

The workshops to create the Foundation Roadmap had served a dual purpose. They helped us identify the likely members for each framework group and informed the terms of reference for each group.

The next step was to get the meeting programme started. The first order of business was to re-cap the vision and Roadmap. Next, we had each group formally approve their Terms of Reference. Finally, we asked them to nominate the members of the next group down.

Strategic Layer

Steering Group

People who headed up each business services function.

Representation from the Partnership.

Tactical Layer

Data Board

Department heads who had accountability for data.

Either putting it in, using it, or reporting with it.

Operational Layer

Data Steward Council

People with day-to-day responsibility for data.

Usually direct reports of the department heads.

We could then use the regular meetings of these groups, the expected communications up and down between the groups, and the collaboration space to start work on the other priorities.

Step 5 Establish an issues log and priority triage

New data challenges began to come up once we started getting these groups together. We had to identify these issues and prioritise them against the known urgent issues and functional objectives.

We focussed the next few meetings of the Data Stewards Council on issues. They worked on agreeing on how to log the issues and what criteria they could use to prioritise them.

The Council decided to record the problems in a simple spreadsheet which they could all find and edit from the collaboration space. Based on the issue’s impact on the Firm, categorised the issue as high, medium, or low.

Step 6 Address Urgent Challenges

The Firm wanted to implement data governance in response to an urgent set of data challenges. We used subsequent meetings of the Data Stewards Council to make sure that these were recorded as high priority issues on the log and work on brainstorming potential solutions.

Solutions included the creation of ‘working groups’ of the affected data stewards who could get more into the detail of the problem and solution.

By using the collaboration area to keep a record of progress and posting milestone decisions on the public page, senior stakeholders were able to see a clear correlation between these new roles, the Firm’s strategic objectives, and solving data challenges.

Operational Data Governance Framework

By following the steps outlined in the Roadmap, it was easy for us to help the Firm meet its short term objectives without disrupting activities by starting a new Data Governance Lead.

Maintained Stakeholder Engagement

The Firm was able to maintain stakeholder engagement by moving forward with setting up the framework groups and by utilising the new communication and collaboration areas. This would have been harder if too much time had passed between Foundation Roadmap creation and execution.

Capitalised on Momentum

The Firm capitalised on this momentum to prioritise the list of issues using the Data Stewards Council as the driving force. Because the data stewards were also adding to the list of the problems, collaborating on prioritising them increased their confidence in the impact of data governance and trust in the other steward’s abilities. This increased confidence and trust makes them more willing to help solve high priority challenges.

Smooth On-boarding

We included onboarding for the new Data Governance Lead in the Roadmap, so all framework group members were aware of the upcoming change. The phased approach to their taking over the running of the groups and the Roadmap meant that all could manage communications and relationships. The new joiner was not left overloaded or unsupported at any time. The roadmap activities were still in their infancy, so they still had plenty of opportunities to influence the final deliverables.

Summing up and Next Steps

By setting up the communication and collaboration mechanisms, establishing the framework groups, and recording, prioritising, and addressing urgent challenges, the engagement and momentum started by the foundation roadmap creation process were continued and increased.

Focusing on training, supporting and encouraging the people in the framework groups enabled progress to be made, in these critical early days, without doing things that would have to be undone or changed by the new data governance lead.

Everything needed to be set up for success and an easy transition to that person when they were onboarded.

Final Advice

It’s always better to have a nominated data lead on board before you finish your Foundation Roadmap, but it’s not a disaster if things happen, so you need to recruit one instead.

This Firm ended up having to recruit a data lead from outside. Still, because they planned for the onboarding and adjusted their Roadmap to accommodate it, they didn’t lose any momentum or stakeholder engagement.

Ask us for Help

Innovative law firms have big goals for improving the client experience through data innovation. The problem is that many law firms struggle with a lack of data maturity and alignment between their strategic objectives and the siloed reality of their data.

We have developed a unique data governance road-mapping approach to help law firm leaders launch the proper foundation for data governance through our extensive law firm background.

We’ve used our five-step road mapping process to quickly help law firms deliver a complete framework and plan for assuring their data governance and quality so that Firms can realise their strategic goals.

Book a call to talk to us about your challenges with data governance.